Friday, December 19, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things

I get asked for book recommendations a lot.
Like, A LOT a lot.
And I hate getting asked for book recommendations.
Not because I don't want people to discover my favorite books, just the opposite, actually.  If I think a book is the right fit for someone, I will nag and nag and nag until whoever I've recommended the book to actually reads it. And once I understand a person's taste in books, I have a pretty good history of hitting the nail on book recommendations.
But most books are not universal. There's a book ('Boy, Snow, Bird' for those that care) which two of my friends have read. For one of them, its one of the BEST BOOKS EVER. For the other, it's good to start, and then, it's just weird.
And I don't think either of them is wrong.  It's just not my second friend's type of book.  She is not the intended reader.  I don't think that most great books, if any actually, are universal. There are a whole group of 'Great Books' that I dislike, some of them, quite intensely.
This is the nature of great books. Because a great book speaks to the soul of the reader, and not all souls are the same.
If they were, we would all like Twilight.
I shudder to think you are imagining that I like Twilight. I don't, though I also don't hate it as much as many people seem to, and for many readers, it did what a great book should do:  it transported them into someone else and somewhere else. For that, I cut it some slack.
This is a long introduction to avoid the inevitable emails saying, 'I can't believe you recommended 'X' which is one of the most over-rated bookes EVER!!', that this post is inevitably going to produce. These are five books I love, and find myself recommending on a pretty regular basis.  These are not for everyone, and I've tried to pick less well-known books, or older books that won't be on everyone's 'Best Of' lists this year.  Give one of them a try, I think there is something here for most everyone.

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
I love Lois's books, and have read everything she's written, but this book and it's sorta sequel 'Paladin of Souls' are my two absolute favorites. They're glorious, and so well-plotted, and well-written that I can't imagine the fantasy lover that won't adore them.

The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata
To my mind, this is one of the best science fiction books of the 1990s, and as much as I like Robert Sawyer, I think that 'The Bohr Maker' should have won the 1996 Nebula award. It is a stunning piece of fiction, and a fearless work of imagination.

The Truth Machine by James Halperin
While it's not a perfect book, it's an excellent example of what scifi does best, it's a big idea and a great and flawed character crash landing into each other. The ending perfectly breaks my heart everytime I read it. And I want to live in the world that Pete's machine creates.

K-PAX by Gene Brewer
I first read this book years before the terrible movie of the same name was made, and before the controversy about whether Brewer stole the idea for the novel. But I adored this book for it's careful tightrope of is he/isn't he, and that it leaves it to the reader to decide the truth.

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells
A swashbuckling fantasy heist-gone-wrong, that is much more complicated than it at first appears. And then the villain appears.  It's the type of fun and witty book that I always enjoy finding, and has one of my favorite main characters (can you consider Nicholas a hero?) ever.


  1. You're forgetting a certain Spaniard, I think.

    1. No, you notice 'Stardust' isn't here either. I was going for more obscure titles that people are more likely to not have heard of. You should try a few of these too.